Book Nerd Guest Post
Kenneth Weene is a New Englander by birth and disposition. He grew up outside of Boston and spent his summers in Maine. Although he lived for many years in New York and now resides in Arizona, Ken has never lost his accent nor his love of the northeast.
Having gone to Princeton, where he studied economics, Ken went on to train as a psychologist and to become an ordained minister. Over the years he has worked as an educator, pastoral counselor, and psychotherapist.
Married to Roz Weene, artist and jewelry creator, for over forty years, Ken is a strong believer in the joy of love.
Kens writing started with poetry, and his poetic work has appeared in numerous publications most recently featured in Sol and publication in Spirits, and Vox Poetica.
An anthology of Kens writings, Songs for my Father, was published by Inkwell Productions in 2002. His short stories have appeared in Legendary, Sex and Murder Magazine, The New Flesh Magazine, and The Santa Fe Literary Review.
In 2009 a novel, Widows Walk, was published by All Things That Matter Press. All Things, which has also just published Kens second novel, Memoirs From the Asylum.
What makes a family? What makes a home?
by Kenneth Weene
Maybe it’s because I was out of my home by age fourteen – away at boarding school and summer camp, too. Maybe it’s because my father was a rage-aholic and my mother was, shall I be kind, peculiar. For whatever the reason I have always been fascinated by the notion of families – their creation, organization, and the fantasies we create about them.
As an adult, I became a shrink, a clinical psychologist. One of my areas of expertise was family therapy.
Once I married and decided that my home, my family, was the one my wife and I would create, I realized that the most difficult part of having a family was deciding who was part of it and who was not. But what exactly was the “it” that mattered? So two questions: How do we decide who is in and who is not? How do we define what the process of being a family might be?
Tales From the Dew Drop Inne is my literary response to those questions. I gave up on the intellectual, psychologizing answers years ago. Now I like more artistic answers to such big questions.
Not all the characters who come through the Dew Drop are part of the family. For example, there are two beer deliverymen. One, Sky, a Hopi Indian, is very much a part of the family. How do we know? He interacts with the other characters. He plays jokes on them. He accepts their silly comments without anger. He knows that they need him and that he needs them. The other deliveryman, Hunter, whose uncle owns the delivery company, is an inconvenience, almost an embarrassment to the folks who make the Dew Drop Inne their home.
Clearly communication is part of deciding who is part of the family. Communication isn’t just passing information; Hunter does that. It’s the two-way flow that is important. That and the warmth and humor. Sky is family because he talks with and not to, because he takes part, and because he laughs.
Of course laughter isn’t the only emotion to be shared. There are tears. The folks at the Dew Drop Inne know a lot about tears. Trish, for example, shares hers. Cut off from her children, Trish would surely be alone in the world were it not for the family of her local bar. And there is helplessness; poor Captain in and out of the V.A. psych ward. And there is even anger and prejudice. For example, Al wants to go after Chan, owner of the local Chinese takeout. Yes, families have room for destructive and negative emotions. As long as the feelings are talked about, the family works. It works even in the face of disagreement.
Sadly, sometimes people just don’t care. They see the sharing of emotion as a weakness, sometimes a weakness to be exploited. They’re the ones who don’t become part of the family – people like Cody. As Ephraim said about him, “I don't trust him at all. Strikes me he’s a sidewinder if ever I met one.” The family has no room for the uncaring. Angelica looking for a sexual thrill, Monica looking for a good story: they don’t stick around, and no one misses them.
But those who do care, who are part – they have a place at the bar. Tom, no matter how embarrassed he may have been, is welcomed back. Even Sam, drifting in and out of a haze and Shelly with his terrible breathe: they are part of the family because they care and they take part.
The family of the Dew Drop Inne works; and if you care and can share, you are cordially invited to be part of it. Draw up a chair at one of the ratty tables or a stool at the chipped bar. Sal, the owner, will ask, “Youse want a drink?” Order two, one for you and another for me. I’ll be right along because there’s just no place like home.
Meanwhile you can watch the trailer and order the book. It’s in print and available on Kindle and Nook.
What is it like to work inside a state hospital or to be a patient in such a hospital? What is it like to live inside the mind of such a patient?
This tragi-comedic novel takes the reader inside the asylum, inside the worlds of three central characters: a narrator who has taken refuge from his fears of the world, a psychiatrist whose own life has been damaged by his father's depression, and a catatonic schizophrenic whose world is trapped inside a crack in the wall opposite her bed. This is the interwoven story of their lives, a story that includes love, sexuality, violence, deaths, celebrations, circuses, and surprising twists.
You can purchase Memoirs from the Asylum at the following Retailers:
And now, The Giveaways.